The Appeal of Living in the Known

Living in the “known” has a lot of comfort and appeal but doesn’t always stretch our faith to the degree to which God calls. There is a big difference between only making decision when we think we are assured of success and living by faith and embracing what is unknown to us but known to God. God is faithful and we must be faithful as well.

May Guest Post Series: Women of Faith

In the month of May we are going to highlight some of the ladies out there for their perspective on faith, following Jesus and more. I am really looking forward to this for a few reasons. First, I am really appreciative that they are willing to contribute to this and I look forward to reading their thoughts. Second, I am also looking forward to the dialog that I hope this generates both here and on their own blogs and websites. I have seen sites rank who they think are the top female bloggers but I haven’t seen anyone highlight them in this way. So get ready to read some really insightful posts and become familiar with some ladies who God is using in some powerful ways!

The Joy of Kids

JonahPirateYesterday Jonah told me he wanted to be a pirate. He brought his red cape to me and asked if I would tie it around his head. He then made a makeshift sword and started saying “Arrrrr…” Then Elijah got in on the act. He put on a Santa Claus hat and told me he was a pirate too. What is more, he took another Santa hat and put a bunch of toys in it and told me it was his treasure.

A while later, I saw Elijah spinning in circles. When he got done, he started walking in zigzags around the living room saying, “Room is spinning…room is spinning”. Kids are awesome. This morning, it continued. When it was time to get dressed, the boys decided that one pair of underwear wasn’t enough. They both, on their own, put an extra pair on their head and started running around laughing hysterically. Ahhh….the joy of kids!

I love the sound of laughter and activity in the house. I love it because it is sweet and fun and playful. The more I thought about how much I loved hearing those sounds the more I realized that it won’t always be that way. There will come a day when the house will be quiet. No more running around. No more pirates. No more underwear on their heads. Just quiet. When it happens I hope I can say we raised them right. I hope we can say we did everything we could to help them love God and love others. My prayer is that we found a healthy balance between loving playfulness/freedom and discipline/boundaries.

It is important that we are our kids parents and that we are their friends. One without the other is harmful to their well being. That tension is real and it is powerful. It reminds me that the same is true of my heavenly Father. He is my disciplinarian but He is also my friend. He puts me through the fire that refines me but also would want to spend playful time with me as well. I hope that doesn’t sound like I have lost my sense of wonder and awe of God. Quite the opposite…it makes me even more in awe of a God who can love me like that.

I am certain there will be a lot of laughing in heaven. I am not so sure about the underwear on the head thing but I can definitely hear the laughing!

No Shortcuts

twopathsWhen I was in grad school at Florida I overheard some of the faculty talking about running. They were going to run a 4 mile race in a couple of months and were going to start training together for it. I told them I was interested to join them so we started running together. I met up with them on some old trails around Gainesville a couple of times but honestly, I didn’t really train very hard. They did. They were ready for the race. I wasn’t.

So here we are at the starting line of a 4 mile race and I’m unprepared. When the gun went off I did what most people do at the start of a race, I took off and got out in front of them. Why do we do that? It’s like trying to drive 1000 miles on a quarter tank. You should know that isn’t going to work out from the start but still we do it.

About two miles in my side really started hurting and my legs didn’t feel any better. I could either slow down but I knew the risk of those old guys passing me was pretty high. Instead of swallowing my pride and letting them beat me, I took a shortcut and ran off in the woods for a while. I never saw them. They never saw me. I wasn’t ever passed, my pride seemed to be intact…but at the cost of my integrity. Really, I had nothing to be proud of when that race was done. They were prepared and I wasn’t. They ran the full four miles and I have no idea how far I actually ran.

There aren’t shortcuts when it comes to things like faith and integrity. Obedience is a long road and it takes training and perseverance. There are times our pride will take a hit for owning up to reality but that is necessary. Jesus was faced with a lot of shortcuts (the wilderness temptations, the 5000 who wanted to make him king and even Peter telling him he wasn’t going to die on the cross). Jesus even asked for a shortcut in the Garden and God told him no. The path to glory and the empty tomb led right through the cross. Jesus calls us to carry our cross and follow him. If we teach people shortcuts around the cross they will take shortcuts in other areas of their faith as well.

Conversation on President Obama, Gay Marriage and Christianity (Part 2)

Matt: Great thoughts. I had thought about Rex’s posts as well when you mentioned the culture war. Part of our problem is that so many of us have nothing better to do for the kingdom than rail against stuff like this. If we were as actively engaged in kingdom work as Paul was we might not even have time to be talking about these things because there would be more pressing personal and spiritual issues we were dealing with locally.

There are several issues here that have to be pulled apart:

First is Obama, as a Christian, openly embracing homosexuality and gay marriage. It seems technology has trumped Matthew 18 when it comes to a dispute among brothers. When Jesus talked about resolving issues among brothers he really did mean go to that brother. He did not say smash people you don’t know from afar. He didn’t say blog about it and air your dirty laundry first and maybe then say something to them later if you have a chance. He said go to them and trying to make things right. President Obama is a Christian. I am allowing him to define himself rather than get into all of the ins and outs of that here. If we take that seriously it would mean someone really should personally and privately go to him and talk to him about on homosexuality and gay marriage. Based on his recent comments he personally believes the lifestyle is morally acceptable and should be on level with marriage among heterosexuals. That is problematic as far as how that meshes with his faith. It does not seem that he is taking the stance that he doesn’t believe homosexuality is right but he is just trying to stay out of the way of legislating what people do in their own lives. He said this is his own personal view.

Second, how do we as Christians feel the political process and legislation play a role in the lives of controlling behavior of Christians and non-Christians in this country? That, to me, is the trickier question and I am still trying to figure that one out. I would be curious to hear more of your thoughts in regard to the first point and the second.

Third, is there a place for a prophetic voice out there in all of this? It seems the voice of the prophet would be shut out today in the name of not offending people. Imagine someone today taking Isaiah’s approach of preaching naked to show how shameful it all is. Someone would call Christians nuts if someone did that. It happened in the Bible…although it was done in Israel/Judah (insiders who should have known better) and not in the streets of Babylon (outsiders to faith). I am not sure how to balance all of that out but I think it is a valid question that I really hear people avoiding more than anything else. Thoughts?

Fourth, it is interesting to read the trial and crucifixion of Jesus and Paul’s trials and see what approach these guys took in dealing with the authorities of their day. Paul deals with Festus and Agrippa differently based on their own background as insider and outsider to Judaism/Christianity. I need to read through some of that again but it might help us to see how they dealt with these things and what their priorities were so we can further define our own rather than letting contemporary culture and politics do it for us by default.

Philip: It’s a good point about the President being a Christian.  But the President is not the first person to call himself a Christian & welcome homosexual marriage.  I’d contend that there are people of greater influence in circles of faith who are promoting the moral acceptability of this lifestyle.

Your second question is one I’m very anxious about for the Church.  And more specifically:  is the Church allowing political calculators & political actors to announce what our moral priorities are or are not?  And I think the answer is a resounding yes.  Look through history of our country we find that the church has a terrible record of being swept up into the spirit of it’s age.  During the Civil War pulpits across the land moralized based on where they were located:  north or south. (HT: Harry Stouthttp://www.amazon.com/Upon-Altar-Nation-Moral-History/dp/B005MWL7HG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337265012&sr=8-1)  Our pulpits moralized over the evils of alcohol leading up to Prohibition & had no idea about the devastating unintended consequences that would result.  Pulpits in the south were terribly slow to confront racism & even used passages like Ezra 9 to defend segregation.

WHO exactly were we allowing to lead us around???  Honestly!  Who are we allowing to lead us around today?  For Kingdom people who are on the left AND on the right?  If we receive our moral marching orders from either David Plouffe or Karl Rove, then we really are the useful idiots that the Evangelical Manifesto said we were 4 years ago.

If we’re seeking a prophetic voice for this country on homosexuality then I think we’ve mistaken our priorities & venerated “Christian society” ahead of Kingdom-building.  Prophets are always aimed at God’s people who have gone wayward.  Are we going to persist in holding on to this notion that the U.S. is new Israel?

Again- we don’t see Paul, a Roman citizen, aiming a prophetic voice at the Empire to turn from their godless values.  And just think historically for a moment:  how short-sighted would that have been?  For Paul to aim his energy and his talents at trying to turn around Rome?  Thank God that Paul was led by the Spirit to have larger priorities.

I think the prophets that the Church needs are prophets that the Church already has.  Like Shane Claiborne who invites the Church to come out from partisanship in “Jesus for President.”  And like Derek Webb who proclaims that he’s never seen a Savior on Capitol Hill.  I wish the Church had ears to hear those prophets.

But I think we still stubbornly hold on to this idea that we can create Christian Utopia here today.  If we just pass the right laws & have just the right leadership we can usher in an age of vibrant faith.  Or at the very least “keep God on our good side.”  And I think political calculators & political actors exploit that misplaced hope and/or potential fear of America getting on God’s bad side.

I think the Church desperately needs to take back her moral voice from the political influences that have tarnished it historically.  As you can probably tell I feel pretty strongly about this.

Matt: Much of the angst you are expressing was summed up extremely well in a book that has just come out called “A Faith of Our Own” by Jonathan Merritt. I reviewed it and did a Q & A with Jonathan about his book.

https://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/faith-of-our-own-author-jonathan-merritt/

https://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/a-faith-of-our-own-following-jesus-beyond-the-culture-wars-by-jonathan-merritt/

You basically summed up his book in a few paragraphs. I will quote one paragraph from my review just to give you an idea,

“Jonathan believes Christianity has bought into the game of politics hook, line and sinker rather than mapping out a more biblical approach to how Christians engage their lives in what really matters. Merritt argues that for far too long Christians have allowed the political parties to use us as a voting block to move their agendas through while we mistook our partnership with politicians as a means to advance and engage in God’s mission. His contention in this book is that our identity as Christians must shape our politics and not the other way around. He also believes that our identity as Christians overcomes the dividing lines between parties as the commonality we find in Christ can bring those who disagree on the issues together worshipping the same God.”

As far as the prophetic voice goes, prophets didn’t focus on just one thing or the other all the time. They gave air time to many issues that were causing God’s people to be far from him (idolatry, mistreatment of the poor, etc). You know the list. The loudest Christian voices out there today have three major problems in dealing with issues like this:

1 – They don’t do it in love.

2 – They target the wrong audience (in scripture the target of rebuke was God’s people nine times out of ten, not the world…there are notable exceptions)

3 – They harp on the same one or two issues (homosexuality and abortion) and give no air time to anything else.

We all need to be reminded that speaking on God’s behalf is a dangerous thing. So many people take it so lightly. In Deuteronomy 18:20 here is what God told Moses about those who say they speak in God’s name things God has not commanded,

” But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.” ”

That is pretty serious business!

Philip: Wise words.  And on that note I think you’ve nearly brought this conversation in for a landing.  Any prophetic voice needs to be motivated by love.  Not bigotry, or discomfort, or fear — but love.  And that’s what our reputation needs to be.  According to Jesus we are supposed to be known by our love (Jn. 13:35).  And when you look at our rep in the world today it seems like it’s anything but.  We’ve got some work to do.

I don’t know whether or not our country should allow same-sex marriage.  There are so many issues (from hospital visitation rights to taxes; to national standards of morality) that I have a difficult time saying exactly what the right thing to do is.  If each one of us were Emperor who knows what would be the right thing to do.  Maybe there’s some among us who would want to, like the President, apply the Golden Rule.  I know there’s plenty among us who want to stand on the side of the Biblical definition of marriage.

But the hard truth to face (for some among us) is that none of us is Emperor of America.  So how do we Christians proceed?  I think we’d do well to be agents of love in the world.  Who knows– we might even win over a few members of the LGBT community.  Wouldn’t that be a thrill?  I pray for that.

Guest Post: When Faith Has a Bad Reputation by Tyler Ellis

GUEST BLOGGER: TYLER ELLIS serves on staff with Newark Church of Christ as Campus Minister at the University of Delaware. He is also author of the upcoming book, Questions Everything. He blogs at  www.BTylerEllis.com about exploring the challenges of knowing God and helping others do the same. These posts include weekly art & interviews, stories & ideas, and reviews & resources.  Follow him at: www.facebook.com/BTylerEllis and www.twitter.com/BTylerEllis

Thanks to Tyler for taking the time to share this. I want you to know why I asked Tyler to share his thoughts here. Knowing this will frame what he has written here and give you an appreciation for his ministry. What I appreciate about Tyler is that he is in touch with people who are seeking God. Often we have some success reaching people who have left or getting people who have some experience with Christianity. We struggle to reach those who are far, far away maybe because we have a hard time relating to them, connecting to them or even caring enough about them. I appreciate Tyler’s heart in reaching out to this group and I appreciate his insights that come out of that experience.

When Faith Has a Bad Reputation

“If you could ask 1,000 Christians one question, what would it be?”

This is one of my favorite questions to ask people who are not Christians.  Their answers can be very insightful.  Most recently, a college student responded by asking,

“Why is faith considered an admirable quality?”

At first hearing, you might think this is an easy question to answer.  After all, faith has the potential to be admired for its humility, conviction, and sacrifice – to name just a few.

But I knew from the context of our conversation, that by her definition of faith, there was nothing admirable about it.  From her perspective, any faith is blind faith.

Am I Expected To Have “Blind Faith”?

If someone asked you to give the definition of faith, what would you say?

Here are a handful of definitions I found by a quick Google search:

  • Eugene Luther Vidal: “To ignore the absence of evidence is the basis of true faith.”
  • The Chofetz Chaim: “With faith, there are no questions; without faith, there are no answers.”
  • YourDictionary.com: “Unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.”
  • Atheism Resource: “Faith by definition is the suspension of critical thinking.  It’s gullibility dressed up like a virtue.  It’s what you use when you know that what you believe isn’t true.  We want people to believe things based on verifiable evidence, not blind faith.” (a Facebook page)
  • Mark Twain: “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”

Sound familiar?  Do you think this way or know someone who does?

You can begin to see why a person would not view faith as an “admirable quality” to possess, if this is what comes to mind when they think about faith.

Personally, if I had blind faith, I would probably lose it.  And if I didn’t have blind faith, I wouldn’t want it.

How “Blind Faith” Blinds People From Good Faith

The concept of blind faith creates at least three major problems:

  1. Blind faith silences the questions people need to ask if they have any hope of acquiring good faith.
  2.  Blind faith gives the impression that there are no reasons to believe in God or to take the Bible seriously.
  3. Blind faith fuels the misconception that faith of any kind is only possessed by religious people.

This is sad.  The choice should not be between blind faith and no faith, but bad faith and good faith.

What is Good Faith?

  • Hebrews 11:1 (KJV): “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
  • Brian McLaren: “Faith is a dynamic state of relative certainty about matters of ultimate concern sufficient to promote action.”
  • John Lennox: “Faith is not a leap in the dark; it’s the exact opposite.  It’s a commitment based on evidence… It is irrational to reduce all faith to blind faith and then subject it to ridicule.  That provides a very anti-intellectual and convenient way of avoiding intelligent discussion.”
  • Tom Price: “Christian faith is not belief in the absence of evidence. It is the proper response to the evidence…So in conclusion, faith is not a kind of religious hoping that you do in spite of the facts. In fact, faith is a kind of knowing that results in doing.”
  • Blaise Pascall: “If we submit everything to reason, our religion will have no mysterious and supernatural element. If we offend the principles of reason, our religion will be absurd and ridiculous.”

Faith is only as good as the object in which one puts their trust.  It’s like choosing between two airplanes when traveling across the world.  You can board the airplane on the left that has failed to pass inspection OR you can board the airplane on the right that has passed inspection.

Good faith is trusting in that which is trustworthy.

That’s what is so remarkable about the claims of Christianity.  When you read in the Book of Acts, the history of how the Christian faith took flight some two thousand years ago, you don’t find accounts of early Christians asking people to follow Jesus blindly.  Instead, account after account, you see early Christians inviting seekers to test the trustworthiness of their claims.

Beginning with the very first “sermon” recorded in Acts 2, when the apostles claimed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, they appealed to three evidences to back up that claim:

1. The Messianic Prophecies Jesus fulfilled;

2. The Miracles Jesus performed; and

3. The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Not only were they eyewitnesses of these events, but they died as martyrs for their faith in Jesus.

[For additional study, read The Book of Acts; more specifically 2:14-47; 17:2-3,11; 28:13]

What Airplane Will You Board?

Faith is inescapable.  You exercise it every day: with every alarm clock you set, every meal you eat, every car you drive, every intersection you come to, every bridge you cross, every elevator you ride, and every bank account you open.  Every day we take risks in the things we put our trust in, without possessing 100% certainty.  It is same when it comes to the worldview we trust to explain our lives.

Brain McLaren says it well, “The best alternative to “bad faith” in God is not necessarily no faith [in God].”

SO HERE’S THE CHALLENGE: Don’t step back from the possibility of good faith simply because others are stepping forward with bad faith.  Do whatever it takes to obtain an “admirable” faith.

LEAVE A COMMENT

  • Where did your concept of faith come from?
  • How has it influenced you for good or for bad?

RELATED POST:

RECOMMENDED BOOKS:

Image by: drawingonanapkin http://browse.deviantart.com/photography/?order=9&q=blind+leap&offset=0#/d1hecqy

A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars by Jonathan Merritt

Let’s start with the unique value of this book, A Faith of Our Own. The big question of this book is how should Christians’ faith influence our political views and how we engage in political discourse? More importantly, how do we as Christianity instigate meaningful change in this world in a way that is in tune with the kingdom over worldly political processes? What makes these questions so important is that they are questions more and more young people are asking. What makes Jonathan Merritt’s perspective unique is that he grew up in a family that was entrenched in Christian conservatism. Just to give you an idea he starts the book with a story as a senior in high school having lunch with Jerry Faldwell trying to get him to come to Liberty University. His family has connections with the Religious Right.

By reading Merritt’s thoughts you gain insight into the struggles and questions of many young adults today in regard to faith and politics (I am still wondering how the word politics didn’t make it into the title of this book). The biggest concern is trying to find consistency in faith and politics by wading past all the junk to the core of what is really most important. Reading Jonathan’s perspective will help you understand where many young adults are coming from, what they have had to wrestle with and will make you, no matter what your political leaning, consider your own approach to faith and politics.

As has already been mentioned, Jonathan Merritt grew up in the inner sanctum of conservative Christianity. He has seen the inner workings of how previous generations have tried to put faith and politics together and reflects on how there can be a better fit than what he experienced growing up. He saw inconsistencies (and plenty of them) in how Christians of previous generations seemed to seamlessly and effortlessly interweave faith and politics in a way that seemed to be more about politics than it was about faith. That incongruity didn’t sit well with Jonathan and it doesn’t sit well with many today.

One of the issues I have with the book is that in dealing with these inconsistencies Merritt has a tendency to overgeneralize various demographics to a particular view. It is all very black and white. You get the feeling that all older people have problems buying into conservative politics and put politics over faith and young people have found the difficult balance. Here is another example. When talking about the perspective of young Christians he says,

“More than being central to their theology, the gospel has become integrated into their entire lives.” Well, has it? That is an overgeneralization. Is there some truth in that statement? Sure but you could say the same thing about older Christians as well. Taking faith seriously is not exclusive to young people.

Jonathan believes Christianity has bought into the game of politics hook, line and sinker rather than mapping out a more biblical approach to how Christians engage their lives in what really matters. Merritt argues that for far too long Christians have allowed the political parties to use us as a voting block to move their agendas through while we mistook our partnership with politicians as a means to advance and engage in God’s mission. His contention in this book is that our identity as Christians must shape our politics and not the other way around. He also believes that our identity as Christians overcomes the dividing lines between parties as the commonality we find in Christ can bring those who disagree on the issues together worshipping the same God.

Do you think the church has bought into political agendas (his conclusion is usually right wing ones) at the expense of God’s mission and our identity in Christ?

Starting in chapter five there is a turn in the tone of the book. The gist is that there are more important things in life than politics. There are needs and hurts in the world that need healed that the church must be a part of and cannot let anyone or anything (including politics and culture wars) distract us from being involved in those things. These issues transcend politics and political parties. These issues bring Christians of various political views together in harmony. When you help the poor, serve the hurting, and reach out to the lost there is a unity those things bring to those who practice them together. Politics get put aside.

So how do we make this change? Merritt argues the change will never come from the top down (we have tried that over and over and failed). The change must come from the bottom up and the inside out (p.123). In other words, if we are going to change this world, we cannot depend on the tools of the world to get the job done. The primary way the world tries to get big things done is through politics. Leveraging politics to the advantage of Christianity is too small. There is a greater power at work in people of faith that can and will bring about significant and eternal change to this world.

One of the ways Merritt attempts to give a solution is through a discussion of their church plant, Cross Pointe Church. He talks about their unity in diversity and how they are attempting to be the church God wants them to be. They are trying to make a difference in the world. This all led me to wonder if it really takes church plants in order to make the necessary changes. He makes a big point out of having to split off of their 125 year old church that was “steeped in tradition” (p.156). What do you do with those who are left behind? How does that congregation go about doing the work of making the transition to being more mission minded? There are many churches in that situation and I would like someone to share some thoughts on how to bring them hope without having to split off to make the necessary changes. I am not being critical of church planting at all. We need more of it but we also need to help existing churches grow to a healthy place as well.

These are difficult waters to navigate and I am grateful Merritt wrote this book to start the conversation. I believe both young and old are starting to see the inconsistencies that have been in the church for years when it comes to these issues and that more and more people have a burning desire to be in the mission, making a difference. We have much to learn and much room to grow.

What Are We Willing to Go Through For God To Do What He Wants To Do?

Scripture is the story of the relentless pursuit of God to bring people back into relationship with himself. The Bible is very clear that God will go to great lengths to make this happen so that we can be made right with God. God is willing to sacrifice his own son, part seas, defeat mighty armies, forgive sins, flex his divine muscle and even conquer death to reconcile us to himself. The question for us is this – what are we willing to endure to accept God’s transforming work in our lives?

If God is relentless then we should expect His pursuit of our transformation to result in some things that are difficult, even impossible for us to do on our own. I am reminded of Job who said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” – Job 13:15. We should be willing to humbly submit and even surrender to God’s work in our lives so that God can accomplish His purposes. I suspect there are times I feel like Jonah the prophet…I am willing to do this but not that based on my own comfort zone or expectation for how I think things should be. Instead I really need to listen and let God change by my thinking and my journey.

P.S. I am not implying in this post that God needs our permission to do what He wants.

Finding Faith In Unsuspected Places

I have met some really interesting people this past year. Some have names you have heard of and others do not. Some have done things that are well known and other do things only God knows. But in all cases I have been so challenged and encouraged. Sometimes you meet people under the strangest and unexpected circumstances that really open your eyes. We had a man come by for help yesterday who was destitute. I cannot tell you how little he had and just how dependent upon God he was. He challenged me. He didn’t do it directly but I felt it. He didn’t have any words of condemnation for me. He didn’t point out any of my flaws or weaknesses but watching what he was going through and how well he was handling it was humbling. It made me realize there are times I rely on myself way too much and the result is always so, so small. But when we put our faith in the Lord, receive our daily bread, and live in relationship with our Father as if everything really did depend on it…that is when life really is “life to the full.”

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

– 1 Peter 5:5-7

Promise and Problems: The Story of Abraham

I am in the early stages of teaching through Genesis and one of the things that is really hitting home is the pairing of tension in Abraham’s life balanced with God’s promises. We read in 11:30 that Sarah is barren but we read in 12:2-3 that Abraham will be the father of many nations. He goes to the promised land like God told him to in Genesis 12:7 and arrives their safely but a famine drives him to Egypt…not the land God promised. So he has to leave the P.L. He goes to Egypt and ends up fearing for his life because Sarah is beautiful and he fears they will kill him. In the meantime the Egyptians greatly bless Abraham (12:16) with great possessions. He gets to go home but when he gets there he has problems with Lot so they separate. He then has to come and rescue Lot and runs into Melchizedek who blesses him and makes his name great, just like God promised would happen (Gen 14:18-21). On and on it goes…trouble and tension keep brewing and God’s promises keep shining right through and things keep working out.

Life really is like that if you know how to look for it. Abraham’s life is such a healthy reminder that God’s promises aren’t always answered in a nice, neat fashion. God wants us to have faith and often faith is best seen and grown through trouble and seeming challenges to God’s promises. The question is whether or not we will continue to believe what God has promised even when it seems impossible from a worldly point of view. 2 Corinthians 4:14-18 says,

14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.  16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

That first verse implies we are going to die. If you are going to be raised you must first be lowered. But God is graceful in giving us new life even though outwardly all the things that are seen are trying to tell us God will not keep His promises we know inwardly what the truth of the matter is. God is faithful and God will bring an eternal glory that will surpass anything we have ever known. So that is what we look for and when we do we will see it, maybe not in an instant but eventually it will shine through just like God did for Abraham.